The No. 6 ranked Gamecocks advanced on to the super-regionals after winning in a nail-biter over North Carolina 7-6 in the Columbia Regional championship game. It was the third consecutive year that the Gamecocks had ended the Tarheels’ season in the NCAA Tournament.
Carolina (the real one) built a 4-0 over UNC in the third inning, but saw starter Billy Buckner struggle with his control, allowing the Tarheels to even it up 4-4 in the third inning. In the fourth, USC second baseman Kevin Melillo connected for a two-run homer to push USC back in front 6-4. Jason Fletcher came in to pitch for Carolina in the fourth, and was fantastic. He pitched five innings, allowed only one run on five hits, and sent the game to the nation’s saves leader Chad Blackwell in the ninth with a 7-5 lead. Blackwell allowed three hits and a run before settling down and striking out UNC’s #4 and #5 hitters to end the game at 7-6.
First baseman Steve Pearce was named as the region’s most outstanding player for the overall #2 seeded Gamecocks. USC headed on to the Super-regional only two wins away from its third consecutive trip to Omaha. The Pirates of East Carolina would be the opponent.